This memo has been traveling like fire from an 'ACS Insider'. The contents are below
I've been an ACS employee for many, many years, but I've grown concerned with the direction of the organization. I'm sending this email to alert you that ACS has grown increasingly corporate in its structure and focus. Management is much more concerned with getting bonuses and growing their salaries rather than doing what is best for membership. For instance, Madeleine Jacobs now pulling in almost $1 million in salary and bonuses. That's almost 3X what Alan Leshner makes over at AAAS, and almost double what Drew Gilpin Faust makes to lead Harvard.
I think Madeleine is smart, but I'm not quite sure if she's in the same category as Dr. Faust. She doesn't even have a PhD!
What really concerns me is a move by ACS management to undermine the open-access movement. Rudy Baum has been leading the fight with several humorous editorials -- one in which he referred to open-access in the pages of C&EN as "socialized science." ACS has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership money to hire a company to lobby against open-access.
What troubles me the most is when ACS management decided to hire Dezenhall Resources to fight open-access. Nature got hold of some internal ACS emails written by Brian Crawford that discussed how Dezenhall could help us undermine open-access. Dezenhall later created a group called Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM), which has this silly argument that open-access means "no more peer-review."
If you're wondering why ACS is fighting this, it's because people like Rudy Baum, Brian Crawford and other ACS managers receive bonuses based on how much money the publishing division generates. Hurt the publishing revenue; you hurt their bonuses.
I'm hoping that sending out this email will get people to force ACS executives to become more transparent in how they act and spend membership money. Not to mention their crazy need for fatter salaries.
It's time for some change. If you want to check out the sources for this information, there is a wiki site that has all the articles and documents outlining what I've just written. You can find it here.
Those of inside ACS know that it's time for things to change. But management won't alter their behavior. The money is just too good.
Aside from the outrageously large sum of executive compensation, close to 1 million, for a non-profit "member supported" organization. The real interesting part of the story is the conflict of interest claims. But, before we get into corporate ethics, there is an other angle that is far more interesting to view the ACS through.
Trivially, ACS can be seen as a manufacturer of products. The product being a publication process. Now, the dirty truth in advertising is you don't need to advertise if you offer a superior product. For instance, this is why there are such ubiquitous ipod commercials. Since, there are many mp3 players in the market that rival the features available in the ipod, Apple has to heavily advertise the culture of ipod. Have you ever seen an ipod commerical showing what it can do that is superior to its rivals? If a product is superior, you simply don't need to advertise. Last example, honestly there are many other chemistry forums on the internet, but I feel Chemical Forums is the best one, thus I feel no need to by ads or advertise how cool Chemical Forums is, people will simply naturally gravitate to this site because it offers better services/community.
Back to ACS, by using our member dues
to vocally oppose the open access standard by advertising and lobbying against it, they are admitting that open access is a superior or equal alternative to their closed access model. The economic reality of commercialism is, you don't need to advertise superior products.
Now, to discuss my own personal biases. I am not a fan of the open access model, I find it a bit silly. It's like claiming Linux is better than windows. Both operating systems suck, and both are quite capable of doing what you need done. I believe in a multi-access model. Where, the open-access model and the closed-access model play their rolls. But, there are more bizarre and interesting concepts on the horizon. For example...
Today's post was going to be on Chemmunity
. Chemmunity, in a nutshell is a peer-reviewed research project
. The website openly asks for authors to contribute in a global chemical collaboration towards an interesting chemical question. There exists a possibility that some research group might swoop in and publish the answer before the end of the first Chemmunity project, but does it matter and would people even consider their work as the first or original? In the world of Web 2.0, the old research models will slowly begin to nudge into something truly fantastic, get prepared for the ride.
Note 1: First brought to my attention by Borek, the fantastic chemistry calculator
guy, here: ACS and Open Acess
Note 2: Link to Chemmunity: http://www.chemmunity.com
Note 3: Peter Suber also has something: More on executive bonuses at acs
Edit 1: Sam's take-- ACS Insider?
Edit 2: Kyle's take-- The tinfoil hats come off